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Saturday, September 30, 2006

The easy way out

I am so disgusted with Project Runway. I have generally been disgusted with the show this season--kicking off Alison instead of Vincent, the fat woman/skinny woman unfair challenge, keeping Vincent until the final six--but this past week's episode really takes the cake. (Spoilers, spoilers.)

At the beginning of the season we were told that there would be special rewards for winning a challenge, and sure enough, there were--the designers who had won a challenge were asked back later in the competition. But then there was this past week. Suddenly four designers are going to Olympus Fashion Week? What the hell? Were we told this might be a possibility at the beginning of the season? Nope. And yet it apparently was.

And...why? It wasn't like everyone's design this past week was so great. The judges liked Uli's and thought everyone else's was subpar. So as a reward for a sub-par performance...everyone gets to go to the finals? Where is the logic in this? (On another note, I actually really liked Jeffrey's dress and thought it totally worked with his design sensibilities--I was surprised the judges didn't like it.)

If the show was going to change the rules midstream (or more like endstream), I would have hoped it would be because all of the designs were so phenomenal that they simply couldn't make a choice. But that wasn't the case. Should they have kicked off Michael, who is the clear front-runner? No, I don't think so. But based on his dress this past week, they could have done so. Should they have kicked off Jeffrey, who has been a bit one-note in the past but has also shown creativity, and made an attempt to go outside of his comfort zone with his last design? No, I don't think so. But based on their belief that his dress didn't reflect the work he does, they could have. Should they have kicked off Laura, whose dress seemed well-made, but was exactly like every other dress she has done? (And for that matter, worn on the show.) Another plunging neckline, another sparkly hem? Yes, I do think so. The fact that we are at the end of the competition and they had to tell her that they didn't want her runway show at fashion week to consist of 12 plunging necklines really says a lot about just how one-note she is. Nina Garcia (or was it Michael Kors?) made a great point when she said that it was fine if Laura wanted to do cocktail, but she needed to expand from the same type of cocktail dress. But she has never even tried to do so (and no, I don't think the black and white challenge dress was much of a departure just because it had a straight neckline and cap sleeves). And by the way, plunging necklines are NOT that flattering. If you are tiny enough to wear them, your bones end up sticking out. It's disturbing. And how many AA-cups are there out there anyway?

So what was the problem here? Were the judges just afraid of making a pregnant woman cry?

As a viewer I feel cheated--the rules have always been that three designers make the finals, not four. In season one Austin Scarlett was far superior to Wendy Pepper throughout the season. But Wendy won the challenge and someone had to go, so it was Austin (even though the judges liked his dress, despite thinking it might be fancy for the Grammys). And in season two Kara had become quite popular and had really grown as a designer, but someone had to go, and they thought she had the least potential of the final four.

And this season they couldn't make that call? I don't think so. In the end, the producers just wimped out, and I really don't get why. But as a viewer I don't like being toyed with. The show is about a competition, and it's just wrong to change the rules when the game is almost over. And keeping four designers also makes the elimination of some other designers seem pointless. Sure, Alison might have had a bad day with her yellow dress and Minnie Mouse bow, but why eliminate her that week? Why not just say that they liked Alison so they were going to let everyone stay? Why not? Because the show is about having to make difficult decisions sometimes. And I just can't see how the Alison situation would be any different than what happened this week.

I love Runway, so I'll continue to watch next season, but this season has seemed gimmicky and really left me with a bad taste, and it worries me that the show will only get worse form here on out.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Laura Holt said...

As I mentioned in my comment to Wilder's post about Runway, I LOVED that they're keeping all four designers. I don't feel cheated as a viewer, I feel lucky that I get to see more clothes during the final episode! I'm excited to see what all four of these very talented people can come up with when freed from some of the time pressures and limits imposed by the specific challenges.

I understand that a competition has to have rules. I'm all in favor of rules. But the importance of rules in games is that they ensure that everyone is operating under the same expectations and conditions. The problem with changing a rule mid-competition is not that there's something inherently evil in changing the rules before the competition ends, it is that a rule change risks upsetting expectations. I.e. people have relied on the rules set forth at the beginning of the competition. They've made decisions and choices based on those initial rules that they would not have made if they had known that those rules would have been changed in they way they were changed when they were changed. A perfect example of this kind of expectation upset based on a rule change in the very same episode Red is so upset about happened when, despite the fact that the designers were told they would have two days to complete a challenge, they were told half-way through the second day that their design had to be complete at 5:00. The designers had relied on the fact that they would have two full days, had made their plans accordingly, and then had the rug pulled out from under them by a sudden, unanticipated change in the rules of the challenge. In my mind, that was a "twist" (i.e. change in the rules) designed purely to fuck with the designers. There is no reason that the producers could not have told them in advance that day 2 would end at 5. But they didn't. Because they're mean. THAT pissed me off.

What didn't piss me off? Having the producers decide to allow four competitors reach the finals. I see that that upset the expectations of Red as a viewer of the competition, and probably upset a lot of other viewers as well. It didn't happent to upset mine, but then I don't expect reality shows to be fair games. Certainly not when they tell us at the beginning that the producers may speak with the judges and have some say in the outcome of each episode. But even if they didn't, I personally don't think that upsetting our expectations as viewers, other than our expectation for a good show, which is what seems to really be Red's complaint, matters much. Who in this competition would have changed their designs or strategy if they had known that there might be four people making it to Bryant Park? Would Allison's recycled dress have sucked less? Would Michael have picked less stupid words to describe himself as a designer?

9/30/2006 6:32 PM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

I agree about the five o'clock deadline. It was totally unfair and totally unnecessary. Someone like Michael spent a lot of time conceptualizing his design and needed the extra time to construct it. There was no reason to change the rules. I hate that! It was just manipulation, again, on the part of the producers. They never did that in the past, and I hate that they have started to do so now.

10/02/2006 9:28 AM  
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